Oedipus and Gilgamesh kill monsters that threaten the human community; Oedipus uses his mind to save the people from the Sphinx, a creature with the body of a lion, wings of an eagle and head of a woman that used to kill men that did not answer her riddle. He does this by solving the riddle, an act that angered the Sphinx and she destroyed herself. Gilgamesh murders Humbaba so that he could get the wood from the forest to build the high walls of Uruk bettering the city and after that kills the Bull of Heaven to protect the city.
Role of exchange of women in the epic of Gilgamesh and Oedipus the King
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, there are two women who articulate knowledge and acumen. The Priestess Shamhat is the woman who is sent to domesticate the wild man, Enkidu. She does this by going out into the boondocks where she strips and lays there naked for seven days. Enkidu stays erect and makes love with her.
The exchange of women, which, in this case, is by marriage, which causes abuse, leads to a tragedy where Jocasta hangs herself after finding out that her husband is also her son. Their marriage resulted in the barrenness of the land and women. Role of minor characters in both the epic of Gilgamesh and Oedipus the King. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, we have Ishtar, who is referred to as the idol of love and fruitfulness, as well as the divinity of war. When she meets Gilgamesh, she tries to lure him to marry her by promising him wealth and fame, she uses precious stones to entice him, saying:
Let me harness you a chariot of lapis lazuli and gold,
Its wheels shall be gold, and its horns shall be amber.
Driving lions in a team and mules of great size,
Enter our house amid the sweet scent of cedar.
In her attempt to persuade Gilgamesh to marry her, Ishtar presents him with lapis lazuli and gold, which we know as two materials valued most highly by the people of Uruk for artistic and ritual purposes. Gilgamesh, however, does not fall for her offer, and this portrays Gilgamesh as a wise man.
Shamhat, the temple prostitute who tames Enkidu by seducing him away from his natural state and ends up sleeping with her. As a result, Enkidu being rejected animals he had been so close to. Enkidu is weak in nature.
The Humbaba, the fearsome demon who guards the cedar forest forbidden to humans. His seven attire produce a sensation that paralyzes with terror anyone who would withstand him. His mouth is fire, and he growls like a flood, and he breathes bereavement, much like an erupting volcano. From the description, it means everyone would avoid his path by any means. When Gilgamesh kills him, it shows the bravery of Gilgamesh.
In Oedipus the King, we have Polynices, son of the son of Oedipus, who is also his brother. He goes seeking his father’s blessing in his clash with his brother, Eteocles, for power in Thebes. He tries to point out the similarity between his situation and that of his father and brother, but his words seem opportunistic rather than filial, a detail that Oedipus notes. Oedipus is intelligent.
Oedipus is secretive, Theseus, who is the king of Athens also a renowned and mighty warrior, Theseus takes pity on Oedipus and defends him against Creon. Theseus is the only one who knows a secret Oedipus tries so much to protect, and he promises Oedipus he will hold eternally. Oedipus is secretive.
The challenges, changes, and progress of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh faces many challenges including the death of his close friend Enkidu. When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh mourns deeply and is shocked by the scene of his death. Immediately discard glory, wealth, and power, all of which are worldly desires that he as the king had once symbolized, he begins an expedition to learn the secret of eternal life. What he finds instead is the wisdom to strike harmony with his heavenly and worldly characteristics. Resigned at last to his mortality, Gilgamesh recommences his proper place in the world and becomes a better king.
Trans. Mitchell, Stephen. Gilgamesh. New York: Free Press, 2004.
Dawe, R.D.: Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, Cambridge University Press, 2006